Dependence on foreign oil. The need for renewable energy sources. Fluctuating gas prices. Going green. These oft-repeated phrases in the news and on the political circuit were all the subject of a Renewable Energy Demonstration Day that was held at Herty Advanced Materials Development Center, Savannah, Ga., on Oct. 11. Yancey Pioneer, headquartered in Austell, Ga., and the Southeastern Wood Producers Association, Hilliard, Fla., joined Herty in sponsoring the event.
Approximately 40 of the top loggers in Georgia attended the educational day to learn more about converting biomass to energy, both in the form of ethanol and electricity. Georgia, with its 24 million acres of sustainable forests, is developing renewable fuel sources from what was previously considered waste from pine trees, primarily limbs and stubby trees. On Nov. 6, 2007, Range Fuels, Broomfield, Colo., broke ground on the nation’s first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant in Soperton, Ga. The first phase, which will produce 20 million gallons of fuel per year, is scheduled to be complete in 2010. By the time the plant is fully operational, projections indicate that it will produce 100 million gallons per year. Research indicates that the pine-based fuel is more environmentally friendly than corn-based ethanol because it uses only a fraction of the water and doesn’t rely on fossil fuels to provide power for converting the material, making the potential of this fuel source quite promising.
Ron Barmore of Range Fuels was one of the guest speakers who got the day moving along with Ross Harding of Herty; Jill Stuckey of Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, Atlanta; and Harold Arnold of FRAM Renewable Fuels, Savannah, Ga.
The event also featured a tour of the Herty Foundation, grinding and chipping test findings and live demonstrations of Peterson and Woodsman recycling equipment conducted by Yancey Pioneer. Sponsors of the event hoped that it would serve to educate the loggers about the tremendous potential in Georgia’s resources, get them involved in the industry and give them an understanding not only of the great need for them to deliver high-quality fuel, but also of the opportunities for growth the business offers.